An Event For The Doujin Community by Doujin!? We Got The OK To Cover The 7 Annual Hakurei Shrine Autumn Festival!!
It’s a festival! It’s a festival!
All over the world the feeling of strict self-isolation due to the coronavirus has gradually relaxed and now living with the virus has become the new normal. I feel like we’re in that stage where our daily lives about suppressing the virus. Doujin events have followed suit and have been holding events that enforce social distancing.
And so, I have infiltrated the 7th Annual Hakurei Shrine Autumn Festival. And the grand entrance is here!!
The sacred ground of Doujin events!!
I mean I don’t think it needs any introduction, but it’s Tokyo Big Site just so you know.
What Exactly is a Doujin Festival!?
First I’d like to give a rundown of what the Hakurei Shrine Festival actually is.
According to the official website the Hakurei Shrine Festival (which from here on out we will refer to as the “annual festival”) is a “doujin convention managed by the Hakurei Shrine office”. Although, to someone who has no idea about the topic they might think “What? The shrine does doujin? Why!?”
What you may not know is that behind the scenes Hakurei Shrine itself is a facility that’s part of the Touhou Project which is created by the doujin group, Team Shanghai Alice. So in other words, the annual festival is essentially a Touhou-only event.
And on that topic, the Touhou Project is a series of famous works that are a cornerstone of the doujin community. A doujin event by the doujin community centred around the derivative works from doujin artists… I can just hear the people saying to themselves, “That makes absolutely no sense”, but that’s exactly what it is!
Infiltrating the Event As An On-The-Ground Reporter
Right away, we registered for entrance into the event and made our way into the venue. Actually, HIKARU winner of the Cosplay of the Year 2020 Grand Prix accompanied us. I actually did an interview with him earlier, so please take a moment to check that out.
Registering for entry. A big thanks to all of the staff there for their polite service!
Since the event hadn’t quite started yet, there were a lot of doujin groups that were in the middle of setting up their booths. So we set our eyes one particular corner of the venue where there were… itasha*. (*a car that is plastered with anime, manga and video game characters)
Cars that are awesomely wrapped with license the license plates brilliantly displaying “8901 (read “Hakurei”) and with the other digits all reminiscent of the works they’re centred around.
The addition of the custom numbers is amazing!
I just wanted to know as a novice in the itasha scene, do people actually drive these on the regular!? I asked an owner that was there.
He responded with, “Yes, of course I use the car regularly because it (the wrapping) is custom made to match the colour of the car itself.” In addition there was a person who had a car with illustrations drawn by a Chinese illustrator who had made full use of translation software. Getting someone to go abroad in order to get the illustration you want displays a great deal of passion for the hobby. There was also an exceptional person who has 10 years of experience with itsasha. Apparently, getting a wrapping for just one side of a car can run you up to 6 figures (*in yen).
In the interviews I have done for DoujinWorld, I have covered many different topics in the doujin community, and I vow from the bottom of my heart to feature an itasha enthusiast soon!
Visiting Each of the Booths
Meanwhile, they announced the official opening of the annual festival and the general ticket holders rushed into the venue… is what would be the norm, but as expected it was a corona catastrophe. It was almost like people were stumbling forward with each step, however people were able to continue in-step without too much confusion. It’s exactly this kind of attitude that has been almost indispensable in growing the doujin event culture.
Going around to all of the booths, one-by-one… I saw written notices for patrons. I could see that corona safety measures have been firmly adhered to and that patrons were being very careful to abide by them.
Some booths prepared vinyl gloves.
Handmade character hats being offered. They are carefully crafted down to the minute details.
Phone cases that perfectly encompass the Japanese flavour of the works themselves.
There are even folks who have participated in the Touhou Project since its birth. Folding fans made of very high quality Japanese paper. They can be used for a lifetime.
These costumes being sold are by no means amateur level!!
They told me that they want to “sell these all over the world”, so leave it to me!
The cards are specifically placed to make them look 3D. The work is so detailed…
These small figures show Japan as a powerhouse of artistic talent. They are all handmade.
Ofuda* (*household talismans) made from characters. Even just standing here I can feel the virus being warded off…
There are many cosplaying vendors wearing transparent masks/face shields. I mean it’s a shame if you can’t see their faces after all…
Impactful cosplay. I feel like I’m at a doujin event and at the same time I feel like I’m right at home.
Goshuin*(*a letter bearing the shogun‘s scarlet seal) custom made to fit the work. The person who writes them is a former shrine maiden!
There was no cosplay area this time but I was able to see many cosplayers.
Pre-registration is required to cosplay at this event. It’s also mandatory to install an app called “COCOA” from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The infection control is impeccable!
The works submitted for the illustration contest.
The Hope for the Expansion of Doujin Culture
In Japan, events have really fallen into the corona vortex but they are making a comeback after implementing social distancing between patrons and measures like temperature tracking and frequent sterilization of areas. Of course, from the global perspective the situation is still very unpredictable, however I hope that doujin culture will thrive and evolve rather than decline in the face of the coronavirus.
※All photos have been approved for publication at the time of the event coverage.
Having started an advertising production company in 2010 whose main business partner is a mail order company, he specialises in direct response advertising.